• child and adolescent mental health;
  • comprehensive schools;
  • intervention;
  • mental health nursing;
  • mental health promotion;
  • school health services

Accessible summary

  • A participatory action research study on the development of a professional practice model of mental health promotion in a comprehensive school.
  • Model was developed in collaboration with interest groups, students and parents.
  • Interventions were developed on universal, selective and indicated levels.


The purpose of this paper is to describe a participatory action research process on the development of a professional practice model of mental health nurses in mental health promotion in a comprehensive school environment in the city of Oulu, Finland. The developed model is a new method of mental health promotion for mental health nurses working in comprehensive schools. The professional practice model has been developed in workshops together with school staff, interest groups, parents and students. Information gathered from the workshops was analysed using action research methods. Mental health promotion interventions are delivered at three levels: universal, which is an intervention that affects the whole school or community; selective, which is an intervention focusing on a certain group of students; and indicated, which is an individually focused intervention. All interventions are delivered within the school setting, which is a universal setting for all school-aged children. The interventions share the goal of promoting mental health. The purposes of the interventions are enhancing protective factors, reducing risk factors relating to mental health problems and early identification of mental health problems as well as rapid delivery of support or referral to specialized services. The common effect of the interventions on all levels is the increase in the experience of positive mental health.